Kate Middleton, Camilla Parker-Bowles and Sophie Wessex: Co-ordinating outfits and identikit nude shoes. What this picture tells us about a Royal…


Merry wives of Windsor: Co-ordinating outfits and identikit nude shoes. What this picture tells us about a Royal Family that's finally at ease with itself
Waity Katie had to sit out patiently the joyless years when William hadn’t decided to propose, and endure that very public splitSophie saw her professional life collapse around her to the embarrassment of her in-lawsAnd Camilla was, for years, simply the ‘other woman’ who had done so much damage to the monarchy

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UPDATED:

00:05 GMT, 20 June 2012

When Kate was wavering over wearing a tiara (as opposed to flowers) at her wedding, it was Camilla who rang mutual friends to get them to persuade her to go with the tiara.

Although Kate can be a fashion plate, the two women have more in common that you might think.

They are outdoorsy types with an interest in dogs, children and the arts, who are utterly devoted to their men.

Smiling widely: For all three royal women, it has been a slow, sometimes painful path to their current good cheer

For all three royal women, it has been a slow, sometimes painful path to their current good cheer

They can do charity roles with buckets of charm but are probably happiest at home relaxing in front of a box set of Danish TV series The Killing; in Kate’s case in her Anglesey farmhouse, and in Camilla’s at Highgrove.

So what of Sophie Wessex, the third happy member of this glamorous new gang She too seems to have been transformed by the arrival of Kate, and has completed her own cycle of rehabilitation.

She and Camilla have horsiness in common — Sophie loves to ride with her children and the Queen.

But like Camilla, her new acceptance within the magic circle has been reflected in her personal style.

It has been noted that since Kate’s arrival on the scene, Sophie has hired a personal trainer and traded up from appropriate to elegant.

Sharing a joke: The Duchess of Cornwall, known for her great sense of humour, entertains Kate and Sophie Wessex as they enjoy the procession

Sharing a joke: It has been noted that since Kate's arrival on the scene, Sophie has hired a personal trainer and traded up from appropriate to elegant

A new swish in her tail has been detected, as she dropped a dress size, upped her heel height and heightened her highlights.

Some called it competitiveness, but it is more likely that she has grown in confidence as her stock in the family has risen.

Although she has always got on with the Queen, like Camilla, she had a fairly bumpy early ride as a royal consort.

Shades of pale: The Duchess of Cambridge chose a cream double-breasted coat-dress, while Camilla looked chic in pale pink coat and cream dress

Celebration: Camilla and Kate leave the chapel after the ceremony

Changing times: Camilla was, for years, simply the ‘other woman’ who had done so much damage to the monarchy

There was a skirmish with negative
publicity before her wedding to Prince Edward in 1999, when pictures
emerged of Chris Tarrant pulling up her bikini top.

(She had been a publicist for Capital Radio where he was a DJ).

Once
that hiccup had passed she decided to continue her career as a public
relations executive as she was keen to continue to make her own way in
the world.

The company she owned with her business partner and right-hand man, Murray Harkin, won lots of accounts and did a brisk trade.

Harkin
said that although ‘figure-blind’ she was excellent at sales and
pitching.

Then Sophie met the now-defunct News of the World’s ‘Fake
Sheikh’, and embarrassed everyone by being rude about William Hague and
Cherie Blair, and worse, being seen to trade on her royal connections.

She resigned from her own company, and three years ago the business was wound up with a fairly monumental 1.7 million of debt.

Recycling: Kate wore the same Alexander McQueen coat-dress on 16 June last year for the Trooping the Colour ceremony on the Queen's official birthday

Royal duty: Kate and Camilla wave to the crowds

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge looked to have enjoyed the ceremony today

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge looked to have enjoyed the ceremony

Despite this, Sophie had already worked her way into the Queen’s affections.

She battled hard to have her two children, eight-year-old Lady Louise, who has exotropia (when one eye looks outwards) and her younger brother James, Viscount Severn, four, who was conceived naturally after several bouts of IVF and one ectopic pregnancy.

Her quiet strength, plus — oddly — a shared interest in military history saw her become a favourite of the Queen in those lean years when HM no longer had Fergie to cheer her up (they got on surprisingly well), couldn’t bear to befriend Camilla and William was still unmarried.

Sophie may not have been a natural entrepreneur, but she had been a natural PR girl.

She was friendly and chatty and genuinely interested in people.

Impressive: Crowds line the streets of Windsor to watch the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Charles during the procession to the annual Order of the Garter Service

Impressive: Crowds line the streets of Windsor to watch the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Charles during the procession to the annual Order of the Garter Service at St George's Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle today

The Queen and Prince Philip departed by coach after the service at the chapel

The Queen and Prince Philip departed by coach after the service at the chapel

Splendid show: The Queen herself hands out the Order of the Garter, and unlike with her OBE or CBE honours list, does not need to consult the Government to do so

Splendid show: The Queen herself hands out the Order of the Garter, and unlike with her OBE or CBE honours list, does not need to consult the Government to do so

Even the potentially politically-explosive trip to Gibraltar that she and Edward made on behalf of the Queen earlier this month passed uneventfully — partly because Sophie has learned her lesson.

Now she never puts a foot wrong, or says anything tactless.

She smiles at local children and makes happy small talk in pretty dresses.

The only black mark against her in recent times has been a certain surprise around the staggering presents she accepted from the despotic King of Bahrain: two ‘suites’ of highly expensive jewellery.

But as such gifts do not belong officially to the recipient and usually end up as part of the Royal Collection, it is unlikely that the Queen would be irritated.

After all, she welcomed the King of Bahrain to her Jubilee lunch for monarchs at Windsor.

For all three royal women, it has been a slow, sometimes painful path to today’s good cheer.

Waity Katie had to sit out patiently the joyless years when William hadn’t decided to propose, and endure that very public split.

Sophie saw her professional life collapse around her to the embarrassment of her in-laws.

And Camilla was, for years, simply the ‘other woman’ who had done so much damage to the monarchy.

Now their various tribulations have turned to triumph. No wonder they all look so perky.

THREE AGES OF FASHION…

Kate: Flirty at 30

Outfit: In the 2,350 ivory cotton and wool pique Alexander McQueen double-breasted coat dress she wore for last year’s Trooping the Colour, the Duchess of Cambridge has her finger on the fashion pulse with its layered peplum (officially called a ‘tiered Samurai skirt’). Teaming this buttoned-up style with the Reiss Peacock dress she wore to Epsom a year ago, the Duchess allowed her never-ending legs to do the talking.

Hat: A loyal fan of milliner Jane Corbett, Kate chose this sculpted straw saucer to complement the angular lines of her coatdress. Contemporary but grown-up enough for this formal occasion.

Shoes: Critics have tired of Kate’s penchant for these LK Bennett nude Sledge heels, but they are flattering on her slender legs. Bag This neat box-style clutch bag — the 160 Natalie from LK Bennett — is bang on-trend and is the perfect accessory for her sharp tailoring, adding textural interest.

Hair: Kate’s glossy brunette mane is her style signature, and the loosely-tonged curls tumble around her shoulders, making her instantly recognisable. She knows this is one of her winning features, and makes wardrobe choices accordingly.

Beauty: Still in the bloom of youth, Kate can get away with stronger eye make-up and the defined eyebrows that have become her trademark — not something that works after crow’s feet have set in. Her English rose complexion and pearly-white teeth are highlighted with a dusting of matte powder, light blusher and a slick of pink lipstick.

Camilla: Stylish at 64

Outfit: In a formula that has worked beautifully since the day she married Prince Charles, Camilla turned to designer Anna Valentine to create her streamlined cream chiffon dress and pale pink coat. This blush pink is extremely flattering on more mature complexions, but not too girly. The edge-to-edge, looser silhouette of the panelled coat gives a defined shape while the fluid chiffon dress adds a diaphanous, romantic feel, allowing this sixty-something to show a softer side.

Hat: Philip Treacy has enjoyed Camilla’s patronage since he created the masterpiece she wore on her wedding day. The simplicity of this outfit allows her to get away with this flamboyant hat. And dusty rose pink is extremely flattering, casting a warm glow over older skin — mothers of the bride, take note.

Shoes: Slightly lower than the Duchess of Cambridge’s footwear, Camilla’s 165 heels were from Stuart Weitzman at Russell & Bromley, with a 75mm platform and a classic court shoe shape. A perfect interpretation of the ‘nude heels’ trend for a more mature woman.

Bag: An elongated envelope-style leather clutch is elegant and practical. Many older women still attempt to match shoes and bags, but Camilla demonstrates style flair by selecting accessories that work together without being twee.

Hair: Feminine and flattering, Camilla knows how she likes her hair, and sticks with it as the perfect frame for her heart-shaped face. A professional blow-dry is crucial once you reach a certain age and need a style with bounce and staying power.

Beauty: Like the Queen, Camilla recognises that minimal make-up works best for older women. A dusting of loose powder to minimise shine, plus a creamy pink lipstick, a hint of rose blusher and a coating of waterproof mascara are all she needs.

Sophie: Foxy at 47

Outfit: This bespoke Bruce Oldfield shawl-collared jacket and skirt, first worn at Zara Phillips’s wedding last year, suits the Countess of Wessex perfectly. The soft, peachy tone flatters her light tan, while bracelet-length sleeves make the outfit less mumsy. A glimpse of beaded camisole alludes to a sexy little number beneath without being too provocative. Choosing a circular skirt minimizes bulky layers on the hips, but adds fluidity. And the on-the-knee hemline is spot-on — any shorter would make a woman that close to her 50th birthday mutton dressed as lamb. Any longer, she’d be lamb dressed as mutton.

Hat: This blush-coloured disc, spotted with crystals, is by Jane Taylor, who regularly works with Bruce Oldfield. Sophie’s jaunty personality is captured beautifully with a fun look that would work well on any woman who fears a fascinator but doesn’t want a full-blown hat.

Shoes: At a certain age, many women opt for a more demure choice of outfit, but show they’ve still got ‘It’ by slipping into a pair of sassy shoes. Sophie’s 435 patent leather platform-soled Jimmy Choos are perfect for a foxy forty-something.

Bag Like Camilla and Catherine, she opted for an on-trend clutch, but the three styles couldn’t be more different. Sophie’s sophisticated satin bag, overlaid with ivory lace, contrasts nicely with the translucent chiffon of her jacket and skirt.

Hair: Sophie’s mousy brown hair is swept into a chic chignon that showed off her radiant complexion and fantastic bone structure. Upswept hair is an instant facelift for any woman in middle age.

Beauty: The sun-kissed glow of someone who loves the outdoors, yet her skin is still line-free, with a touch of bronzer on the cheekbones.

Karen Kay